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THE CHILD 
AND THE 
WORLD 

DIALOGUES 
IN MODERN 
EDUCATION 

By 

Margaret 
Nautnburg 

An unusual book on the 
education of children by 
the founder and director of 
the WaldenlSchool. $3.50 



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New State Guest House, 
KhairatalDad, 

Hyderabad, Deccan, 
August 24th. 1928. 

Dear Mr. Gregg, 

1 am very much obliged indeed for your letter of 
August 18th. and for the enclosed additions and corrections 
of your book. I have been reading your book with great 
interest since I wrote to you last, but have not so comp- 
letely digested it that I can write to you in a detailed 
manner. If the articles which appeared in Capital were not 
yours, the writer has certainly taken the ideas from your 
book, and I am very glad to have had the chence of seeing 
the original. 

I am leaving Hyderabad next week, on Saturday September 

Ist.^ and am leaving Bombay for England on September 15th. If 

I do not get the chance before then, I hope to write you a 

libng letter when on board the steamer. I feel already that 

your book places the whole movement for Khaddar on a more 

clearly stated basis than has been made hitherto. 

Believe me, 

Yours sincerely, 



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OBJECTIONS TO BIRTH-CONTROL 75 

up in a very secret discussion with a neighbour ? One 
is prepared to admit unreservedly that among these also 
there may be cases in which anxiety about the method 
used may be a factor in producing nervous disorder. 
But that has nothing to do with contraception; that 
is the result of the practice of harmful methods that 
must inevitably be expected so long as the mass of 
people are kept in ignorance of methods that are healthy 
and efficient. 

§7 

What do those who call contraception "unnatural" 
mean by the word ? Do they mean that they have 
feelings about contraception that are too deep for words ? 
I am prepared to admit that they have. Do they mean 
that contraception is not practised in the vegetable 
kingdom (or, for the matter of that, in the animal 
kingdom, except by man) ? If so, I must agree with 
them. Or do they mean that contraception is in conflict 
with nature in general or, perhaps, human nature in 
particular ? That seems sufficiently damaging to con- 
traception to merit detailed consideration: and if it turns 
out, after all, that they mean something else, I can 
only plead that it is a little difficult to rebut an accusa- 
tion which nobody can understand, not even the person 
who makes it. 

The "natural" means for controlling populations 
are well known to us. They are famine, disease and 
destruction by violence. Nature has all kinds of neat 
little expedients for keeping down the numbers of 



76 



PARENTHOOD 



species that breed too exuberantly. Fertilised seeds 
fall on rocks and barren places; tender plants are 
choked out of existence by weeds and brambles ; germs 
and parasites wipe out animal populations very effi- 
ciently; myriads of young creatures are gobbled up by 
hungry members of their own and other species. 

Bacteria and parasites still infect and destroy the 
human subject; the threat of war is not lifted; periodic 
famines still wipe out populations ; but these "natural" 
expedients no longer appear effectively to avert the 
risk of over-population and, what is more, a lot of 
people do not like them, and even find themselves in 
conflict with Nature's methods of securing the 
(admittedly) beneficent end of limiting population. 
They are not deterred by the fact that the alternative 
is the substitution of an expedient that is not in Nature. 

It is not usual to regard the scientist labouring to 
track down and destroy the micro-organisms of disease 
as an "unnatural" monster. It is not even a mortal sin 
to put on oilskins to avert one of the natural conse- 
quences of rain. The confusion arises from the curious 
assumption that "natural" is synonymous with good, 
and "unnatural" with evil. The world of Nature is 
neither good nor evil : it is material upon which man 
must work to produce expedients and ends the goodness 
or badness of which may then be judged in terms of 
his own moral nature. These expedients are unnatural 
only in the sense that they do not already exist in 
Nature, and one may freely admit that if everything 
man needed for his use, happiness and development 



OBJECTIONS TO BIRTH-CONTROL 77 
were preformed in Nature, there would be some real 
point m stigmatising as unnatural and immoral any 
modification of Nature he dared to make. 

But many devices not in Nature have contributed to 
human happiness and well-being, and, as such, have 
managed to secure general approval. They have been 
called inventions, and range from houses, clothes, elec- 
tric light, cooked foods and mass production motor-cars, 
to such useful devices as braces to overcome the natural 
force of gravity. But general approval has not been 
achieved easily. Each conquest of Nature has been 
greeted with uneasy suspicion— with the pious asser- 
tion that these new-fangled ideas are unnatural and no 
good can possibly come of them. Such was the case when 
chloroform was introduced as an anzesthetic against the 
pains of child-bearing; pain, it was held, is a natural 
accompaniment of child-bearing with which it is im- 
pious to interfere. Similarly, aeroplanes were unnatural, 
because "if we were intended to fly we should have 
been provided with wings." Those who fought to 
abolish slavery were attacked on the grounds that they 
were wickedly attempting to interfere with a law of 
Nature. 

In each case, the error was the same. The new in- 
vention was in apparent or real conflict with physical 
Nature or established custom. It has never occurred to 
nature's diehards that to be consistent they would have 
to repudiate all inventions and live in natural caves, 
wear their natural skins in all weathers, eat only 
natural, that is to say raw meats and fruits, and have 



78 



PARENTHOOD 



no truck with such unnatural devices as hygiene 
and sanitation. One cannot help feeling that the 
verdict "death from natural causes" would come 
too soon to enable them to recant their dangerous 
errors. 

Contraception is condemned as unnatural: but there 
is nothing in it that violates human nature. It is true 
that it is a device not found outside the human race; 
but the road to culture and civilisation is paved with 
such devices. If it is suggested that the separation of 
the procreative from the personal ends of sexual inter- 
course is unnatural, one may point out that, on the 
contrary, among many savages, living in a state of 
nature, the separation is complete. Sexual intercourse 
is indulged in for personal ends only: when babies are 
born it is assumed to be due to something the mother 
has eaten. If the subject of disapproval is really the 
waste of spermatozoa and ova, that is not so much a 
criticism of contraception as of the whole plan of 
Nature. Millions of seeds are scattered, of which only 
one is destined to take root and develop. Whenever 
semen is emitted it contains "a million million sperma- 
tozoa " of which, however, only one can fertilise an 
ovum. Do the theological writers who say that this one 
chance in a million million must be taken, condemn as 
unnatural sexual intercourse during pregnancy or after 
the change of life ? These, it would appear, are questions 
they prefer to ignore. 

Perhaps the best thing that can be said for the word 
"unnatural" is that it is the debater's friend. The only 



OBJECTIONS TO BIRTH-CONTROL 79 
precaution required is to get it in first; in any discussion 
the first "unnatural" scores the heaviest points. 

§8 

We need not deeply concern ourselves with the 
antagonism to birth-control that comes from those who 
feel that we must produce large populations with which 
to fight our future wars. People appear to be singularly 
reluctant to produce children which will exist to adorn 
casualty lists, and one must admit frankly that there is 
absolutely nothing to be done about it. 

The wars of the future will, in point of fact, be 
fought not by big armies, but by a few highly skilled 
experts against civilian populations. Therefore, a 
relatively small, efficient community would be more 
powerful in war than a nation with a large, superfluous 
population. But, apart from this, a country controlling 
its numbers is less likely to increase the pressure on 
world markets — the main cause of war — than one with 
an excess of population for which an economic outlet 
has to be found. 

Nor can one say much about the vice which it is 
alleged will follow the practice of birth-control. One 
has not observed that the classes that practise birth- 
control are noticeably more vicious than those that do 
not; nor is it necessary to assume that a husband who 
respects his wife's right to decide when children should 
:ome from her body is less likely to respect her freedom 
md personality than one who does not. 

The fear that, if the deterrent of unwanted preg- 



8o 



PARENTHOOD 



nancies is removed, the husband may make his wife a 
victim of his unbridled lust; that, as some opponents of 
birth-control have expressed it, she may become more 
helpless than a prostitute before his sexual desires, 
appears to be based on a curious and inaccurate con- 
ception of the nature of the sexual relationship. The 
implication, it seems to me, is that sexual intercourse is 
an indecency forced by the man upon his reluctant 
wife: that the wife is a passive agent, through whom 
her husband gratifies his passions, not a participant in a 
mutually desired experience. 

This is utterly fantastic. Among normal people sexual 
intercourse can only occur as a fulfilment of a common 
need ; normal men are repelled by sexual relations unless 
they believe that they are desired by the woman as much 
as by themselves. Even men who visit prostitutes neeC 
the illusion that the woman, whose body they have 
taken out on hire, enjoys the sexual relation with them: 
and the simulated ecstasies of experienced prostitute; 
are an indication that this fact about average mal( 
psychology is well realised by them. 

There are, of course, abnormal men. They are few 
but there is no point in pretending that they do no 
exist. I would suggest, however, that the sort of mai 
who would have sexual relations with his wife agains 
her inclination, is not likely to be gifted with fore 
thought; he is not the kind who will refrain becaus 
some months later a child may come as a penalty fc 
his lusts; nor is he likely to require the extra stimuli 
of having such a fear removed from him. 



OBJECTIONS TO BIRTH-CONTROL 8i 
It may, of course, be argued that the man and woman 
together may become less restrained in the expression 
of their sexual desire when they are no longer haunted 
by the fear of undesired pregnancies. This may or may 
not be the case, but it seems to me that such behaviour 
on their part would not represent any falling away from 
virtue. There is no virtue in refraining from sexual 
intercourse through fear of undesired consequences. 
But it seems to me to be a fine thing to remove such 
fears, so that abstention, when it does occur, can truly 
base itself upon an intelligent harnessing of the sexual 
instincts and a mutual respect for each other's desires 
on the part of the man and woman. 

' §9 

The only other argument against birth-control that 
will be considered in this book is based on the fear that, 
if the use of contraceptives becomes general, the world 
will be depopulated. 

It is assumed that when people find they need not 
have children by accident they will not decide to have 
them by design. Population is regarded as a mere by- 
product of sexual passion. One can only assure the 
people who have this curious opinion of mankind that 
the desire for children is as primary and as overwhelm- 
ing as the desire for personal sexual gratification; that 
perhaps the most tragic experience of a doctor's pro- 
fessional life is the task of informing a woman that, 
although there is nothing against her enjoying a normal 
sex-life, it is impossible for her ever to bear children. 



82 



PARENTHOOD 



No one who has observed the eagerness with which 
sterile women press for the most desperate operation, 
offering a remote chance of pregnancy, can ever doubt 
the terrific urgency of the need for children. 

But all this, to normal men and women, must be too 
obvious to need mention. They know perfectly well 
how intensely they desire to have children j that they 
would use contraception not to avoid the responsibilities 
of parenthood, but all the more conscientiously to fulfil 
them J not to go through life childless, but only to bring 
into the world children that can be adequately supported 
and cared for. It seems to me that a world populated by 
people every one of whom was brought deliberately 
into being would be a very magnificent place to live in. 



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OQOQOOOQOOOCXXXXXX3QCXX)CXX30CXX> 

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THE GEOGRAPHICAL ASSOCIATION. 



Local Branches in Educational Centres throughout the Country. 
Affiliated Associations in Ireland, Federated Malay States, Burma, 
Ceylon and India. 



President, 1028: Dr. Vaughan Cornish. 

Chairman of Council : The Right Hon. Sir H. j. Mackinder PC 

Hon. Treasurer: Colonel Sir Henry G. Lyons. F.R.S., The Science Museum, South Kensington. S W 7 
Hon. Secretary and Editor : H. J. Fleure, Universitv College of Wales Abervstwyth . • •/. 

Associate t.diior : P. M. RoxBY, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool. " 

Chairman of Syllabuses and Examinations Committee: 

J. Fairgrieve, M.A.. 

Frocester. Friern Lane, 

New Southgate, N.IL J^^^^^ Jf t /^^f 



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Scissor-cut by Hunt Diedrich 



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THE cow 

BY 

E. MERRILL ROOT 



|HAT four-legged fountain called a cow 
Is stranger than the Sphinx: 
What CEdipus has told us how- 
Green grass within a copper cow 
Turns the white milk he drinks? 



The Roc from the Arabian Tale 

Was not so strange as she; 
Jonah's apartment in the whale 
Beside her alchemy's a pale 
And gentle verity. 

God's jolly cafeteria 

With four legs and a tail. 

As mystic as the Cabala, 

An elf in rufous taffeta. 
She pours us ivory ale. 



The Tavern of the Crumpled Horn, 

She pours a cosmic flood 
That antedates John Barleycorn; 
'Twill feed the Superman unborn: 

It nourished Adam's blood. 

She eats the grass and honeydew, 

The buttercups and daisies; 
And she will dream, and chew, and chew — 
Invite her soul, and loaf, and moo 

Life's rude and wholesome praises. 

Her udder is a Holy Grail 

Whence heroes, saints, and lovers — 
Yes, all the Sons of Man — grow hale. 
Oh, she's an ambulant Fairytale 

That's bound in leathern covers. 




A quiet New England bossy, she 

Is also something more: 
The good earth's generosity, 
And health, and humorous mystery 

In ruddy metaphor! 



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